06.04.2015 - 07.04.2015
A composed calm rests in this latest exhibition of Angel Ulama with the persistence of white in a collection of twenty-four new paintings. Predominant white canvases smeared with blue dots and specks of yellow to a gradation of whites—off whites to greys working alongside the restraint within the realm of monochromatic hues.
At one hand, there’s this likelihood towards introspection towards these abstract paintings that will take the spectator towards meaningful elsewheres at par with their own respective subjectivities. Meanwhile, on the other end, there are also those schematic technicalities on the artist’s behalf with his conscious choices of colors and specific means of applying the paint on canvas. There’s restraint while at the same time there is also this incessant release of the artist’s impulses evident in the works.
Having returned to painting after over a decade of hiatus since his departure from the country to reside in the US in 2001, the medium of painting finds itself a new re-negotiated meaning for Ulama. Ever since his return in 2012, the longing to create has pushed him to re-assess the medium of painting from looking into the simplistic process of applying paint on canvas down to a controlled undercurrent of compositions yet still working alongside very liberal and impulsive mode of painting wherein he uses his intuition as a guide on how to go through his canvases. At the end of all these, this new exhibition of his most recent works re-assesses the unfamiliar. The unfamiliar gradually being familiar by way of Ulama reclaiming the medium and situating himself once more in these abstract images heightened by experience and that self-assured gait as he puts himself into a new chapter, mid-way into his artistic career.
words by Gian Cruz
Squared Feelings on Politeness
06.04.2015 - 07.04.2015
My law-abiding folks told me never to leave a work undone. There's this one morning when they told me; "How long will you lay there, O sluggard? When will you arise from your sleep? a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands of rest, and poverty will come upon you like a robber, and want like an armed man". And so I got up and did my chores. I started off by sweeping the floor.
On another day, my old man shouted; You will obey your leaders and submit to their authority. They keep watch over you as men who must give an account. Obey them so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no advantage to you. "Then I said, okay I'll wash the dishes.
Then one day it struck me. I realized they were not just given me instructions for doing chores, or making me clean the house to shake off my sluggardness. They were giving me devised rules on how to be a great man. I suddenly felt empty and I thought “Well, I needed to do this to follow the steps of many great painters."
As Albert Oehien Stated, "Following a self-imposed set of guidelines certainly gives you more momentum. Forbidding yourself certain things, believing in rules, is good state to be in."
While contemplating on this with my freshly brewed cup of coffee, I wondered; so for further stressing an idea or motif for examples, one has to make this simple gestures of incorporating a device in a work. "Georg Baselitz did this by turning the canvas upside-down, creating this grand motif that will not only make his work distinguishable from his contemporary, but will make him free from other worries. He would simply paint anything then flip the canvas, that's its" - said the golden Voice in my Head
The next day, after repeatedly hearing the same words from my wise old man, I got up on my comfy bead and paint. I decided I have to let go of my visual references - cut out magazines, printed papers, and snap shot from my camera. From now on I will paint whatever I want. I will decide whether the work is done, or if it needs to suffer more stress by putting more acrylic paint on its surface. This will be my standard.
Then I wrote down in my Journal: "Repetitions as motif. "The Asterisk symbol will be repeatedly seen in each work witch will stress the idea of squaring itself. it will act as a logo bearing the same ornamental images over and over. This will emphasize the idea of the asterisk as a symbol; a star, a tool for correcting typographical errors, for pointing out a specific thought or opinion, for noting various arbitrary meaning, or simply just a reference marking tool. then I clipped my pen at the back of my note book, and headed back to my bed and sleep. I shall gain more sleep for tomorrow will paint some more.
Just Before the Pitch Black
06.04.2015 - 07.04.2015
Cineri gloria sera venit (Fame to the dead comes too late)
Nothing lives more beautifully than an eternal and unchanging memory. A memory is stripped of humanity’s irrefutable reality: time. Memorials expose the weakness of time, as it works to relieve and relive a life long gone. A practice ingrained in the human psyche since the dawn of mankind, physical landmarks or objects act as permanent vessels designed to carry the memory of the dead, serving to connect the psychic space of a community’s empathic experiences with their beliefs of the afterlife.
From elaborate ancient shrines to the emergence of online memorials, the changing face of our emotional culture has been continuously harnessed to cope with the universal reality of death. The act of commemorating continues to evolve in many forms as culture adapts to modern and often times impersonal, communication channels, all taking on various forms to meet specialized agendas in a passionate attempt to grab onto a fleeting memory as a form of therapy, redemption or education.
De mortuis nil nisi bonum (Of the dead say nothing but good -Horace)
Memorials have since stood to be dignified and elegant, a physical manifestation and exaggeration of the honored subject’s most positive qualities, a highlight reel of his best scenes.
Throughout the ages, memorials are created in awe-inspiring fashion, elevating the person to becoming more than human, at times even presenting them as divine beings. Such monuments and commemorative creations, whether or not they are injected with a proposal for divinity, carry within it a story of a life that simply wants to be revisited.
These historic monuments are created to stand against the test of time. In using imperishable materials such as gold, stone, marble among others, these milestones of memory are designed to achieve the very immortality that had eluded the very person for which it stands.
In articulo mortis (at the point of death)
Despite its best intentions, memorials celebrate a person’s life with a certain level of emotional and mental distance, as the person engulfed with the perception of the divine are celebrated for the very suffering they had endured. This leads to moments before death that are seen as a forged, virtual form of glory, an award that gives passage to eternal life or martyrdom.
Memento Mori (remember you will die)
This collection serves as a visual intermediary that attempts to reconcile the common practice of creating memorials and the fears rooted in death anxiety. The featured pieces capture the minute point of annihilation. The works augment the experience of being in extremis by capturing the moment of physical destruction, mirroring the effects of man and nature’s cruelty to the body. Messy, chaotic and at times abrupt; Unexpected and unpredictable, the discourse takes on the very characteristics of its dreaded subject. It both humanizes and dehumanizes, and humanizes in its dehumanization.
A dynamic approach to the practice of memorial making, the collection highlights the distress experienced before death and venerating the importance of suffering on the path to martyrdom, where one enters the metaphysical state during the height of extreme suffering. The damaged memorials are suspended in an atemporal, pregnant pause as a glorification of that height of tension.
As a physical manifestation of what society cannot bear to witness about the symptoms of mortality, the collection confronts and exposes the damages absorbed by the body and celebrating how humans subsist, acknowledging the vicissitudes between suffering and transcendence, as an exploration on the corporeality of man-made objects.
words by Hannah Jo Uy